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one of a poor and numerous Saxon family that furnished the music at village fairs and weddings. In those days little In those days little Bertha played the violin, for the most part fortified by pumpernickel and small beer. Her talent, however, won the interest of a benevolent landowner, who placed her in the local conservatory. There for some time she studied the piano. But one day a vocal teacher-Rokitansky, in fact-heard her sing; in that moment her star of fate shone forth. With Rokitansky in Vienna, with the younger Lamperti in Milan, with Marchesi in Paris, she prepared herself for fame. In Paris, In Paris, John Holland had met her. That same year she was wedded to the benevolent landowner, and became a widow in a month.

"But since then," John concluded, with a quizzical look, "she has managed to regain her spirits."

"I suppose she married him from a sense of obligation," said Thallie, not daring to raise her eyes.

"True, she was twenty, and he forty, at the time," responded Holland. "A middle-aged man, you see."


She stole a glance at him, and saw that he was smiling.

"At twenty she 'd have been apt to think so. Do you remember a night in New York, in the supper-room of a hotel, when you looked at a forty-year-old stranger who was sitting near by and said, 'A middle-aged man like that'?"

Her face turned crimson. "You heard it!"

"The music always stops at the wrong moment."

"The-light was bad where you were sitting."

"It was n't bad the next time I looked in the glass. Do you know, Thallie Goodchild, that evening you gave me something new to think of. We seem to be a stupid lot, we men. In boyhood we feel we have all eternity at our disposal, an illusion that lasts much longer than you 'd suppose. Every morning, every night, in fact as often as we can manoeuver to a

mirror, we admire our reflections with the same self-complacency; we go on supposing that others see on our faces the mask of eternal youth. But one fine day we overhear somebody say, "The old man.' We look round us; no one else is near. At last we realize that we, too, are subject to the same alterations as the rest of humankind. And most of us are quite bewildered by that little discovery."

"I did n't say 'old man,'" cried Thallie, clenching her fists. "And I was a fool even to say 'middle-aged.' It just shows what I knew at that time about anything. Forty? Why, that 's what 's called the prime of life."

"To be sure. Ask Frossie if there 's not some euphemistic term for almost everything."

"Now you 're making fun of me!" she retorted, with a catch in her voice; and she fled to her own room.

She had been diverted from her inquiries concerning Bertha Linkow. Had John Holland, divining that stratagem, deliberately confused her?

"If that's the case, it won't work again," exclaimed Thallie, clicking her teeth.

Possibly his valet had been with him in those romantic days? But it turned out. that the gray-haired servant, who answered to the name of Brown, had been in John's employ only fourteen years. A British subject, he had once served as orderly to a major in the Duke of Cornwall's Fusileers. Standing before Thallie, with his heels together, he admitted that he would not have turned to valeting had there been no prospects, at the same time, of adventures.

"And what adventures have you had with Mr. Holland?"

"Why, Miss, from time to time, I may say, I 've been fair fed up with them. We 've got into some very strange places, Mr. Holland and me, and, what's more, if I may take the liberty, some tight ones. An archeologist does n't always meet with amiable native characters while going about in the East. And, then, there 's been more peaceable occasions, but quite

as exciting, when one comes to get the hang of them. For instance, at Tiryns, where we found the great treasure in the shaft-tombs—the gold diadems and cups and jugs and sword-belts and what-not, as is now in the Polytechnikon at Athens. And, besides, as one progresses in knowledge one takes a pleasure in what I call the adventures of the mind. I remember when we exploded Hick's book on the Homeric dialeck; ah, that was a day, I assure you! Hick, as you know, Miss, thought the Homerics was composed in the Æolic dialeck; it took us to show as how that could n't be,-quite the contrary, indeed,-coming as they really did from the Achean of the eleventh century B.C., the parent-langwidge of the Thessalian, Arcadian, and Cyprian. Quite a stir we made with that bit of news in what I call the learned circles."

"But your career with Mr. Holland has n't all been such hard work," suggested Thallie, half ashamed that here she was trying to tempt a servant into an indiscretion.

"Oh, no, Miss, the life is n't all deserts and ruins and digging-gangs and such like. We've had our vacations, and very pleasant they was. If we 've got a book finished, we do ourselves well somewhere on the Continong, though at present we 're busy this long while on a new work, which Mr. Holland has probably mentioned to you, Miss-the 'Foundations of the Egypto-Roman Monarchy.' At the moment, howsomever, we don't seem to be making much progress with it."

"Mr. Holland is working now?" Thallie ejaculated, once more diverted from her detective purpose.

"Semi-occasionally, Miss; but only late at night."

That afternoon, when the others were down-stairs, she went out of her way to pass John's open door. She slipped into his bedroom.

She thought it a less attractive chamber than her own; at any rate, it was less cozily furnished. In one corner, on the floor of gray terrazzo, appeared some Indian clubs and dumb-bells; in another a

chest half filled with books stood open. A large table, beneath a drop-light, was covered with papers. But Thallie crept

straight to the bureau. The bureau was bare of photographs!

She turned to the writing-table. Timidly she picked up the topmost sheet of manuscript. While reading a few lines, she thought:

"These words will some day be quoted everywhere; he will be praised and fêted. on account of them. If Roosevelt were President, he 'd invite him to the White House to discuss them." There came to her a fresh comprehension of John Holland's fame, which, by the way, had not yet reached its zenith. With parted lips, she contemplated the honors still awaiting him. Her gaze slowly swept this silent place, where, when his nocturnal labors were concluded, he turned off the droplight with one of his deliberate, strong gestures. She escaped the room and her involuntary thoughts.

Of Frossie she asked:

"How many books do you suppose he 's written altogether?"

"I should say a small Carnegie Library might possibly hold them all."

"Don't try to be smart! How many, really?"

"Why not ask him yourself?"

"A lot, I'll bet, for a man of his age." "Of his age?"

"He's only forty."

And Frossie, left alone, reflected, "I wonder if dad and I are going back to Zenasville without her."

September was nearly ended. Before long they would be on their way to the United States. An ocean would separate Frossie from the Florentine cemetery. She wondered if Baron di Campoformio would really see to the grave.

Then one morning as she was walking toward the town of Cadenabbia, just after a north-bound steamboat had passed up the lake, she saw the baron before her in the road!

He had come all this distance to obtain her pardon.

She could not turn away from him as

he stood there bareheaded, his thin hair fluttering in the breeze, his weatherbeaten face wearing once more its expression of appeal. On the stone parapet that edged the road above the water they sat down together, the young nobleman in his wrinkled English tweeds, the young woman in her plain black dress. For a time he looked down miserably at his boots, while motor-cars, flashing past, enveloped them with dust. It occurred to Frossie that since she had thus far relented, she ought to ask him to the villa.

But he refused that invitation; he intended now to catch the next boat down the lake. He wanted only to hear her say that she forgave him.

He had meant well all the while. In offering his aëroplanes he had tried to benefit Camillo. As for the cracked propeller-blade, he himself had flown with it the day before; he wished with all his heart that it had broken then. Now he had given up flying. Even the hangars were torn down, so that he need not see them from his windows. But the remorse remained. It might not be so bad if Donna Frossie understood his feelings.

Her eye-glasses seemed blurred, by the dust of passing motor-cars, no doubt. She removed them, to rub them with her black-bordered handkerchief. Though she knew that her eyes looked smaller when unprotected by those lenses, she was in no hurry to resume her previous appearance. She responded:

"I don't know why I acted as I did toward you. Naturally, I understand that you'd have given anything to prevent the accident. I suppose it had to happen. Apparently I was n't meant to be a wife.” "Some day, perhaps."

"I shall never marry now."

He stared for a while at her solid, sensible face, slightly freckled round the nose, and framed, beneath the black straw hat, with tresses of unusually emphatic red. No beauty was there, unless there is beauty in such healthy womanliness as suggests the light and warmth of a wellordered home, the frolics of contented children, all the gentle blessings which

surround the normal hearth. And he sighed, did this sporting baron whose dead American wife had been as delicately winsome as the companion of a dream, but too winsomely delicate to remain a wife. "You are young," he sighed, but he was thinking, "I am young, too." Did she read in his face the secret that he had kept so well?

She replied:

"The obstacle will not diminish as I grow older."

"The obstacle? Ah, yes; I suppose one can hardly hope that it will diminish, that obstacle."

"But remember," said Frossie, "we are friends again."

He began to stammer:

"If at any time-" He ended lamely with the words, "If I can ever be of service to you?"

"You can see that the grave is well kept."

"That I will do, of course."

"Thank you. There's nothing else." When Campoformio had left her, Frossie felt happier instead of sadder. “It really was not his fault." She was glad that he had come all the way to Cadenabbia to hear her say so. But had he come all the way to Cadenabbia just for that? It did not displease her to think otherwise. Oblivious to the passing motorcars, she looked up at the sky and uttered: "As long as I live! Till I join you!" And she was also glad to think that there were others who might come to care for her, and whom she might refuse, thus proving to Camillo, wherever he was, her unwavering devotion.



AFTER Baron di Campoformio's departure, Frossie found that she had still more material for the new novel, which was to describe the career of a young woman widowed on her wedding-day. Every morning she repaired to her room to write at least five pages. She believed that her

style was steadily improving; in other words, that she was acquiring more and more the mannerisms of her latest literary model, Ivan Turgenieff. At last she felt sufficiently encouraged to let John Holland see her manuscript.

His verdict was:

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"I think you 're going to do something with this pen of yours.' Such a speech, coming from another, would possibly have. seemed faint praise; from John it was enough to warm her cheeks. But he added: "Understand, that will take some time. Though comparatively few people think so, this profession also has its long and arduous apprenticeship. For I presume, with your feeling about art, you want to make it a profession, not a trade?" "Certainly."

"Then you'll have to be very industrious, patient, and courageous for a while. But the seed, as it seems to me, is really here; you'll know, at least, that you 're not tending barren ground. I believe that some day, if you stick unflinchingly to your ideals, you'll make a name for yourself."

But even after this encouragement there were times when Frossie made small progress with her work. Laying down her fountain-pen, gazing out of the window that opened toward the lake, she sometimes mused:

"October! How well we should have known each other by this time! To-day I might have been sitting in some cozy little apartment near the cavalry-barracks, and that tiny wool jacket, half knitted, might not be for Aggie's baby."

Frossie found something mournful about Lake Como at evening, in those days of dying autumn, when the Olea fragrans blossoms and wood-smoke and wet, rotting foliage spread their perfumes, and the Virginia creeper hung down in scarlet curtains, and the mountains, russet and lavender behind blue veils of mist, stood out between fading water and a fading sky, with here and there behind. them the cold pallor of the Alpine peaks. Then, when Frossie had found Lake Como almost too depressing, Bertha

Linkow arrived, to fill the villa with her laughter.

The prima donna came for only a week; she was due in New York on the first day of November. She gave fair warning, however, that she was going to double her time by keeping everybody up all night. And, indeed, an evening passed quickly when Bertha was about.

The nights were growing chilly; after dinner all resorted to the music-room. There fat logs crackled in the fireplace; through the French windows one saw the lights of Bellagio on the far side of the lake. The hour was romantic; one felt a craving for some enhancement of its charm. Bertha Linkow was easily persuaded to take her place at the pianoforte.

Then she poured out for them the treasures of her splendid voice, which others. often had to pay a pretty sum to hear. In the midst of that feast Mr. Goodchild and Frossie had a feeling of unreality: could it really be they for whom the famous prima donna was expending all these doubly golden tones? How was it possible that such things had come into their lives?

But Thallie, watching Bertha's face transformed by the joy of exquisite accomplishment, thought helplessly, "When one sings like that, there 's virtually no one else in the room!"

For Bertha, now tender and now tragic, at one moment vibrant with the soaring ardor of a nun, at the next a-throb with the agonies of guilty passion, seemed to be the epitome of all the women who had ever lived.

After that

She sang the lieder which Schumann set to Heine's words, "Es treibt mich hin, es treibt mich her," and "Mit Myrthen und Rosen, lieblich und hold." came Amina's aria in "La Sonnambula," "Come per me sereno," and Elizabeth's prayer in "Tannhäuser," and Isolde's swan-song, and then, at a capricious change of mood, the lilting ditty which Marguerite utters at the spinning-wheel, "Il était un roi de Thule." Soon, a demure smile settling on her lips, she gave them a song by Tosti, "Io son l'amore":

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